Youth entrepreneurs advised to use COVID period to be creative

—Encouraged to shift business to an online approach

—Advised to seek out support programmes

DPI, Guyana, Friday, June 5, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen many businesses having to adapt to new ways of reaching and serving their customers. Chief among this is using the internet to market their establishments.

In Guyana, young entrepreneurs and youths contemplating starting business ventures are being encouraged to consider an online approach.

This was highlighted during a recent youth forum focusing on Entrepreneurship and Employment, hosted on NCN.

Director of ASPIRE Youth Network Guyana, Dennis Glasgow

Project Manager attached to Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) Dikedemma Utoh

Project Officer attached to the Department of Youth, Germaine Watson

The panellists included entrepreneur and Director of ASPIRE Youth Network Guyana, Dennis Glasgow, Project Manager attached to Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) Dikedemma Utoh and Project Officer attached to the Department of Youth, Germaine Watson.

Glasgow noted that social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are excellent mediums to promote one’s business particularly at this time since most people are reliant on their devices.

“This (COVID-19) period that we are facing definitely provides opportunities for young entrepreneurs, and this calls for creative thinking, strategy/planning and also marketing moving forward post COVID-19,” Glasgow said.

He advised when starting a business, it is always best to assess your community’s needs and create a service around meeting that need.

“Know your target market. Every single social media platform can be used to market your business differently to reach various target groups. Facebook is the most trending social media platform in Guyana. Therefore, most organisations would have a Facebook page.  It is good for sharing more content about the service you are providing.”

Instagram, Glasgow noted is ideal for marketing your venture to younger people, while Twitter is used by more professionals for the sharing of info that is more succinct.

The young entrepreneur said while some business had to downscale during the pandemic, he saw many persons taking to the internet to creatively market their ventures, ranging from prepackaged vegetables to delivery services.

“It is all about finding opportunities in this current period and this calls for creative thinking – out of the box ideas – strategic planning and importantly marketing. This time also calls for us to rethink how we make money – what is our strategic plan, what is the long-term plan in the event something like COVID occurs again, how can I continue to earn.”

Meanwhile, Utoh recommended that all potential entrepreneurs must take into account risks and ways to mitigate those risks in their business plans. He noted that there must be a constant review/assessment of the risks and contingency measures.

“You cannot monitor what you cannot measure; therefore, you need baseline data to monitor the impact of your business,” the BNTF Project Manager advised.

Watson suggested that they use this period to read and inform themselves. “There is a lot of information at your fingertips and for those who do not have access to electronic devices, there are still newspapers and books. Acquire that knowledge so when we are out of this pandemic period you can hit the ground running.”

Support programmes

The panellists noted that there are programmes (pre- and post-COVID-19) in place to assist young people who wish to establish ventures.

According to Utoh, part of the BNTF’s mandate is the implementation of capacity building and livelihoods projects. BNTF is the flagship poverty alleviating programme of the Caribbean Development Bank and has been in Guyana for 27 years.

The Project Manager explained that the capacity building projects are aimed at bringing youth towards employment and the livelihood interventions are geared towards improving the lives of persons at the household level. These would be community-driven interventions that translate in increased income at the household level.

“Presently in the livelihood sector, we will be implementing a community fish processing facility in Victoria Village. There is an agro-processing facility that will be constructed at NARI for farmers of the RAID project or small agro-processors to get value added to their product at a certified facility,” Utoh said.

Training is also an important component of the BNTF’s projects as Utoh noted the agency currently has six training projects being implemented in association with BIT, “Because we insist on credible certification.”

Watson said that the Department of Youth primarily focusses on skills development for young people and transitioning that skill into employment or entrepreneurship.

“The Youth Innovation Programme of Guyana (YiPOG) was specifically designed in 2017 to have young people craft solutions to challenges that they face in their respective communities/spaces,” he said.

The programme, he noted, helps young people avoid the red tape usually associated with accessing resources.

‘We provide the training, the resources in particular finances to young people, to youth groups, to schools any organisation, group or individual that is targeting youth development. We provide the resource to help them find innovative solutions.”

Importantly Watson noted that the department provides training to help the young entrepreneurs keep and rotate those funds to generate a profit. “There is the entrepreneurial training, financial literacy and small business training programme that will be rolled out on June 8 2020,” he stated.

It was highlighted that the ultimate goal is to foster minds that are thinking strategically to solve issues.